How To Spell Out Words Like An Air Traffic Controller

special forces uniformU is for Uniform.

If you’ve ever listened in on air traffic control tower chatter or seen pretty much any movie about the military, you’ve heard people using the NATO phonetic alphabet.

It’s a method that substitutes a word for each letter of the English alphabet, so no one confuses letters that sound similar, like “e,” “b,” and “c.”

Using this alphabet, the word “beacon” is spelled out, “bravo – echo – alpha – charlie – oscar – november.”

It may seem complicated, but once you get to know it, you eliminate the risk of hearing the wrong letter — and sending a plane to the wrong runway.

To get you familiar, you can check out the alphabet’s Wikipedia page.

But we suggest you use our guide, which comes complete with images to help you study.

ALPHA

BRAVO

CHARLIE

DELTA

ECHO

FOXTROT

GOLF

HOTEL

INDIA

JULIETTE

KILO

LIMA

MIKE

NOVEMBER

OSCAR

POPPA

QUEBEC

ROMEO

SIERRA

TANGO

UNIFORM

VICTOR

WHISKEY (our personal favourite)

X-RAY

YANKEE

ZULU

Now that you know your ABCs in military and flight phonetics...

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